NASA TV's This Week @ NASA, Week Ending Jan. 19

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NASA TV's This Week @ NASA, Week Ending Jan. 19
01.19.07
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PLUTO NEW HORIZONS – HQ

The fastest U.S. spacecraft ever launched is nearing the solar system's largest planet. NASA's New Horizons spacecraft makes its closest pass to Jupiter on February 28. Jupiter's gravity will accelerate New Horizons away from the sun by an additional 9,000 miles per hour, pushing it past 52,000 mph and hurling it toward a pass through the Pluto system in July 2015.

Dr. S. Alan Stern SOT: “We’ve checked out our spacecraft, checked out our payload and flown almost a half-a-billion miles across the solar system, the fastest crossing ever made to the Jupiter system. And, today we stand on the doorstep of the Jupiter system which is the gateway to the outer solar system and so we’re very excited.

The New Horizons mission team will use the flyby to put the probe's systems and seven science instruments in position to make more than 700 observations of Jupiter and its four largest moons.

THEMIS' THEME - GSFC

The Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms, or THEMIS mission, will try to determine what physical process in near-Earth space initiates the violent eruptions of the aurora that occur during substorms. THEMIS is scheduled to liftoff on February 15 aboard a Delta II rocket, from Cape Canaveral. On clear nights in the world's northern and southern latitudes, the aurora's slow-moving ribbons of undulating light are beautiful to behold. The magnetospheric substorms that produce auroras can be extremely dangerous to astronauts and spacecraft, disabling radio communications, GPS navigation, and power systems while supplying killer electrons to the radiation belts surrounding Earth. The THEMIS mission will also look at how the solar wind enters into Earth’s magnetic field and how particle radiation is produced and distributed throughout the Van Allen radiation belt.

CREW IN THE QUEUE – JSC

Training continues for the STS-117 Mission Crew that will fly on Space Shuttle Atlantis to the International Space Station, where they will deliver a third set of huge solar arrays, batteries and associated electronics. The crew includes Commander Rick Sturckow, Pilot Lee Archambault, and mission specialists Steve Swanson, Patrick Forrester, Danny Olivas and Jim Reilly. The launch of Atlantis is targeted for mid-March.

SILENT SPEECH – ARC

The expression "speaking your mind" may soon become reality, literally. Scientists at NASA’s Ames Research Center have developed a speech recognition system that can understand and relay words that have not been said aloud. It's called "subvocal speech recognition." It uses electrodes attached to your throat to pick up neuromuscular signals your body sends when you read or talk to yourself. It can then convert those signals into text, or channel them to a voice synthesizer. "Subvocal speech recognition" has been successfully tested directing rovers with basic commands, like stop and go. Also it, may prove useful in settings where normal vocalizations aren't always effective, such as when firefighters battle blazes.
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